A Newton Mearns youth has played an instrumental role in helping to take his U15s team through to the finals of the Scottish Youth Cup finals, while a spectacular late goal from striker Ben Harwood sealed the deal.
Playing for Renfrew Victoria, 14-year-old Lennon Houston, who attends Eastwood high school, was in the line-up of the team that booked its finals slot after beating a highly-respectable Hamilton Accies U15s on Saturday.
Lennon has scored in nearly every round including a diving header in the quarter finals.
Having spent three years with Barrhead boys club before moving to St Mirren for almost five years, and then Renfrew Victorias, he has had some very difficult decisions to make this season. With the interest of a pro youth club and being given the opportunity to sign, he took the decision to stay with Renfrew, saying: “I enjoy the training, my team mates and the coaching staff and I’m proud to play in the Renfrew colours on match day.”
Pitchside at the semis on Saturday, Martin McConnell takes up the report.
He writes: Renfrew Victoria booked their place in the SYFA Challenge Cup Final against either Banks O’Dee or Crosshouses after a well taken late strike by Ben Harwood proved to be the difference between these evenly matched sides. Hamilton got off to a bright start after only three minutes when Stephen Coupland got hold of the ball twenty five yards out and made a mazy cross field run, beating three players on his way into the Victoria penalty area, his resulting shot from ten yards was well saved by Aaron McKissock.
Accies then had a chance from a free kick thirty yards out, which Declan Moore played the ball into the box for Connor Reid to attempt a shot on goal but McKissock was able to hold and bring under control.
Victoria had a half chance when a ball hit into the Accies box from a free kick was met by the head of Craig Corbett who managed to find a bit of space in the crowded area, the ball going wide of the near post.
Victoria then went on to dominate the rest of the half in terms of chances, Jamie Paterson sent a shot over the cross bar from twenty and another went wide of the post from a similar range.
Corbett had a shot deflected into the path of the Mooney’s arms from fifteen yards out and Paterson went on a nice run into the Hamilton penalty area going past a few defenders before seeing his shot deflected wide for a corner.
Kris Johnston of Hamilton made a strong run in on the Victoria goal and unleashed a shot from twenty yards which McKissock managed to comfortably save.
Harwood had ploughed a lonely furrow up front for Renfrew in the first half but started sprightly when he beat a couple of defenders on the edge of the Hamilton penalty area and passed inside for Jordan Whitten to strike low towards goal, with Mooney calmly collecting.
Aaron Black in midfield for Accies was starting to have a pretty decent game and had a good attempt from fifteen yards well saved by McKissock in the Victoria goal.
On fifty nine minutes Renfrew had a free kick from twenty five yards, it was sent in on goal and Harwood’s shot from ten yards, was saved again by Mooney.
The match winning moment came late on when the ball was played long out of the Renfrew half up towards Harwood, with his back towards goal and a defender making life difficult, it looked as if he would hold ball up for someone else, but he managed to turn the defender and place the ball past the Hamilton keeper and into the back of the net, 0-1.
Renfrew will be playing the winner between Banks o Dee from Aberdeen or Crosshouse boys club from Ayrshire who play their tie on the 29th March, either team will be a tough opponent in the final.
Renfrew are currently in third place in Division 1 of the Paisley, Johnstone & District League with games in hand so are in a very good position for this point in the season and fully believe they have what it takes to challenge for the title this year in a very tough division. They are currently also still in the Gilbert Baird cup and the West Region cup.